Retired Indonesian general 'interviewed' at Changi as part of 'screening procedures': ICA

Mr Suryo complained on social media that he was detained and subjected to questioning by the officers when he arrived at Changi.
Mr Suryo complained on social media that he was detained and subjected to questioning by the officers when he arrived at Changi.ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

JAKATA - Retired Indonesian army general Suryo Prabowo was stopped and interviewed by checkpoint officers at Singapore's Changi Airport on Wednesday (Aug 17), as part of "screening procedures", said the Republic's Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA).

The ICA, in a statement on Saturday (Aug 20), explained that Mr Suryo was interviewed by its officers for about 30 minutes from 5.35am, and then allowed to continue on his journey.

"He was informed by ICA officers that the interview was part of the screening procedures for border security," said the agency. "As part of the immigration clearance process, travellers to Singapore may be subjected to additional interview and/or screening. These procedures are conducted at all of Singapore's checkpoints."

The Singapore authority was responding to earlier media reports that said Mr Suryo was denied entry to Singapore because he was "blacklisted".

Mr Suryo had also complained on social media that he was detained and subjected to questioning by the officers when he arrived at Changi for transit on Wednesday morning.

According to a report in Antara News on Friday, Mr Suryo was denied entry to Singapore when he was in transit at Changi en route to Fiji. The former three-star general also claimed in a Facebook post that he was "blacklisted for reasons that are not clear".

He added in the same post that if Singapore was "not friendly towards the people of Indonesia, perhaps the Indonesian government needs to review the policy of cooperation in counter-terrorism as well as other bilateral cooperation with Singapore".

According to the Antara report, Indonesian armed forces (TNI) chief General Gatot Nurmantyo had lodged a protest note with the Singapore defence attache in Jakarta over the incident.

"As TNI chief, I'm not pleased with how the Singapore Government has treated a former TNI soldier... We have also written to the Foreign Ministry to lodge a note of protest with Singapore," said the general on Friday.

Indonesia's Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, however, told Tempo news that Mr Suryo was not blacklisted or banned from entering Singapore, adding that he was "only delayed" at the airport.

This latest incident comes just a week before the Indonesia-Singapore leaders' retreat, which will be held next Wednesday in Semarang, Central Java.

The annual meeting this year between Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Indonesia President Joko Widodo will focus on economic collaborations.

Both leaders are also scheduled to unveil the new Kendal Industrial Park, a joint venture between Indonesia's Jababeka and Singapore's Sembcorp. The two countries will also sign a new pact to promote tourism.